Thursday, February 5, 2015

Painted, Leather Handled Tote

I'm back once again with a tutorial! This time,  I made ... you guessed it, a painted tote bag with leather handles! Titles are so nice, aren't they? Unfortunately, the cat you see is not included in your final product, although I do highly suggest investing in one.

(Inspired by this.)

 This was a great project that lasted a few days while I waited for various bits to dry, but it could also probably be done in one day.  I just wanted to make it last so it used up more the boring after work part of my day.


You will need:
- tote bag (mine was left over from a 3 set)
- leather strap (mine was about 42 inches long)
- fabric paint
- foam brush
- needle, thread
- poster board
- x-acto knife
- tape measure
- pen or pencil
- heavy duty glue

Start by drawing a heart (or whatever shape you want to make) either directly onto your poster board, or onto a scrap piece of paper.  I used an old grocery bag and did the classic fold-in-half-and-draw-half-a-heart move.  No way could I have made a nice looking heart without that.  Or, if you have a printer, print a shape out.

However you eventually get around to it: cut your desired shape out of your poster board.  This will be your stencil.

Put a piece of cardboard inside the tote to keep your paint from bleeding to the other side.  If you forget this step, don't worry -- I did too and it only bled to the inside of the other side of the bag, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Place the stencil where ever you would like it to be on your tote, and tape it all down - tote, stencil, everything.  You don't want your cat to jump up on it and move everything (thankfully, I did not learn that the hard way).

Sponge your paint onto the stencil.  I found it best to work around the edges, sponging it on both the tote and side of the stencil at once.  I think this got me a cleaner, more even line.






Fill in the rest of your heart, then leave it flat to dry.  Cut off the cloth straps so that you have just an awkward canvas sack.  Then get your new handles ready! Measure the strap, mark the middle, and carefully cut through.

Figure out where you'd like to place your straps, then glue them with your glue.  I used some kind of Gorilla Glue that I had in my tool box.  I used clothes pins to hold them in place while they dried.

When the glue is dry, sew around the edges however you'd like it to look.  Oh a bag I made for my sister for Christmas, I made decorative Xs with the thread, on one for my mom, I did a normal stitch all the way around.



My leather was pretty thin, but it still took some forcing and pushing to get the needle through.  If you have a thicker embroidery needle, I would recommend using that, but it is possible to get away without it.

Then, voila, you're done!


If you're lucky, you'll finally be able to take a picture without your cat getting curious and getting in the shot!  I wouldn't recommend carrying super heavy things it this because I haven't done rigorous scientific testing on how much weight it can hold. For example, don't put your child it in (I'm looking at you and that L.L. Bean tote mom!)

I plan to use mine next time I go to my tea shop, and perhaps the next time I go to the farmer's market.  I am in Oregon, that's what people do with totes here: fill them with organic, GMO-free produce. 

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